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Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The NBA's COVID-19 protocol is necessarily rigorous, but it's thus far had a disproportionate effect on teams' training staffs.

The state of play: The league's 153-page document includes myriad new responsibilities, with team employees in charge of testing, contact tracing and more.

  • These roles tend to land on trainers, stretching them thin on a daily basis and hindering their ability to perform their actual job.
  • A typical trainer's game day can last up to 16 hours, including two separate prep sessions (one for the morning shootaround; one for the game) and four treatment sessions per player.
  • Now, on top of that, they're also responsible for the time-consuming, logistical aspects of corralling players for testing and compliance.

What they're saying: ESPN's Baxter Holmes interviewed trainers and league officials about their experience so far this season.

  • Decline in player care: "What scares me — and I know it's happening — is that their normal job of doing health care on players [is impaired]," said one league health source. "I've had some trainers tell me, 'I haven't touched a player in two weeks because I've been so busy doing all this logistics and testing and all that.' That's concerning."
  • Trainers' mental health: "Every waking hour seems to be committed to [the protocols]," said one head athletic trainer. "You wonder, 'God, I barely got through today, how am I going to do this another 100-something times?'"

The big picture: Trainers bear the brunt of the daily rigors, but they're just part of a larger system whose efficacy trails its intent.

  • NBA contact tracing follows the CDC guidance that 15 minutes of exposure within six feet of a known positive in a 24-hour period constitutes close contact, which then requires isolation.
  • Yes, but: While on-court tracking shows opponents don't spend more than six minutes in close contact during a game, it doesn't take into account the increased viral shedding caused by high intensity exercise, infectious disease expert Amesh Adalja told The Athletic (subscription).

The bottom line: NBA training staffs are stretched thin despite employing up to eight people. So you can imagine what this is like at the college or high school levels, where there are far fewer trainers, but the risk of COVID-19 is no less real.

Go deeper

Updated 15 hours ago - World

Portugal president wins second term, but far-right gains as COVID cases spike

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at a polling station in Celorico de Basto, Portugal, on Sunday. The election took place with strict social distancing rules and other coronavirus precuatins in effect. Photo: Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Portugal's center-right President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said after being re-elected with 61% of the vote for a second term Sunday his priority will be to "combat the pandemic," per Reuters.

Why it matters: Portugal is currently on lockdown with the highest seven-day COVID-19 average per 100,000 and some of the highest death rates in the world, according to Johns Hopkins.

Updated 19 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 mins ago - Economy & Business

Scoop: Red Sox strike out on deal to go public

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The parent company of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. has ended talks to sell a minority ownership stake to RedBall Acquisition, a SPAC formed by longtime baseball executive Billy Beane and investor Gerry Cardinale, Axios has learned from multiple sources. An alternative investment, structured more like private equity, remains possible.

Why it matters: Red Sox fans won't be able to buy stock in the team any time soon.

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